Tommy Heaney hits 40k target in Kickstarter campaign to open solo restaurant

The Staff Canteen

From £0 to £41,962 - Tommy Heaney's new restaurant will open after exceeding his Kickstarter campaign.

He came, he saw and he conquered. Tommy Heaney's new restaurant in Cardiff will open thanks to his successful Kickstarter campaign. With a seemingly impossible target of £40,000 to raise, Tommy and his partner Nikki have smashed it!  
The Staff Canteen spoke to Tommy to find out how he was feeling and what are the next steps for Heaney's Cardiff.

tommy heaney insta
Tommy Heaney instagram

He said: "It’s a massive relief – it’s amazing! On Friday we went from £31k to £39k in one day – I don’t know how it happened. I am speechless really! I am kind of glad it’s all over – it’s a lot of hard work and a lot goes into it. You have to keep on it and on top of it. The amount of support that we have had from the locals – we have done a pop-up and I think that was a massive help. We had a lot of people finding out about it and coming down and we were letting people know it was there." 

Did he think that he would ever reach the required target? It was a bit questionable as Tommy explained: "On the first day we got like £9000 and then it was dead for like three weeks. At one stage it was sitting around £20k and it was like that for two weeks and it wasn’t moving and I thought ‘it’s not going to happen’ and then the Friday someone pledged for me to go around and cook at their house and that kind of bumped it up a bit - people saw it moving and thought this is actually going to happen and let’s get on it.

"They key is to keep on going – every day we were putting out new messages about it. It’s important for the people who have pledged to see where we are at.  We kept pushing it and pushing it. On Friday afternoon, it jumped up two thousand pounds and from there it just went and increased.

"It’s great, even today I have had people ring me and contact me asking me ‘can we still do anything’ – people are still trying to support it. It’s great!"

The main part of the project will be the installation of a new bar and Tommy said: "We weren’t looking to ask for silly money as we are financing a lot of this ourselves. It was important for me to get the message across that we weren’t looking for free money and that was the key." 

tommy heaney chef
Tommy Heaney

Whilst the great news is very fresh, Tommy and Nikki are mindful that there is a lot to do before they open.

He revealed: "I think it takes about a month for everything to happen – the money has to leave peoples accounts and so on – you have to be prepared for things like that. On the same token, you have to make sure that everything is online – sending out vouchers and tokens."

He continued: "I was relieved last night when it was over and I woke up this morning and reality kicked in. I did have a few drinks last night and woke up with a bit of a hangover! I have to start things straight away with all the invites, vouchers and so on but it’s all part of it. There is a lot of expense involved but we are just so happy that people have wanted to support us."

A huge part of the opening will be the chef collaborations with the likes of Richard Bainbridge, Matt Worswick, Tom Brown and many more talented chefs.  These collaborations have certainly helped Tommy reach the required target.

"So many people have sent messages of congratulations," said Tommy. "I think a lot of people are relieved as well and are looking forward to the actual event. I think it’s really exciting for Cardiff!"

Would Tommy recommend other chefs to consider raising funds for a restaurant via a platform like Kickstarter? Absolutely! Tommy is unequivocal in his response saying: "Yes 100% although I would stress its hard work and you must be dedicated to it 24/7 from start to finish. Don’t give up!"

When asked if he had any message for the people that have supported his Kickstarter campaign, he said: "I need to give a special thanks to quite a few people, the support has been so overwhelming! Gary Usher for being so approachable and pointing us in the right direction, my good friends Ellis Barrie and Tom Brown, Peter Sanchez, Josh Eggleton, Lee Westcott, Michael Brimner, Richard Bainbridge, Matt Worsick, Chris Harrod and Adam Reid so getting involved in the guest Chef nights! Like I say I honestly need to say a massive thank you to so many people and I would love to spend all day naming everyone from good friends, family, bloggers, the neighbourhood and the amazing 355 backers that pledged towards our project and making our dream come true."

Tommy Heaney announces his first solo venture

tommy heaney 1
Tommy Heaney 

Tommy announced his first solo venture would be at the premises of the Arbennig restaurant in Cardiff earlier in the year. Tommy’s partner, Nikki Curnock will be managing the restaurant while he is overseeing business in the kitchen.

Having started his search for prospective new premises for his first solo restaurant back in February, Tommy was contacted via Twitter in April by the current owners of the  Arbennig restaurant in Cardiff.

Tommy was aware of Arbenning’s good reputation locally and after speaking to his partner Nikki, they planned to go down to see the premises for themselves. Tommy told The Staff Canteen: “Once we had seen it and had seen the potential it was a no-brainer."

The couple had a vision of what they wanted to do with the potential new premises straightaway; to completely strip it out with a view to creating more of a lively bar-restaurant environment. Tommy said: “We want to create a central bar that is the focal point of the premises.”

Tommy’s old colleague Lee Hide will be devising the cocktail menu. Tommy explained: “I worked with Lee a long time ago – we have always stayed in touch and he offered to come down and write the list, he is also going to help train the staff and do the launch night with us as well.”

Tommy will be undertaking a series of guest chef collaborations, leveraging the help of friends is part of the strategy and he is planning a chef collaboration with his ex-Great British Menu alumni Tom Brown and Ellis Barrie as well as undertaking other collaborations with the likes of Richard Bainbridge, Lee Westcott, Matt Worswick and more.

This is not only a great way to get the new restaurants name out there (whatever this will be), but it will also be for financial reasons too. Tommy said: “I will be honest about it – this is my first solo restaurant and there are a lot of costs that we didn’t take into consideration. So, we looked at different avenues with regards to how we can raise funds and somebody said to me ‘Why don’t you do a Kickstarter?'. I thought ‘let’s do it’ and that’s when I started to get in contact with all the chefs.”

He added: “The things we are going to be auctioning off in the Kickstarter is the chef nights (it was almost like a cry for help – me approaching them to do this) and they all said they would be happy to help. Anybody that I have ever asked for help from (and I have asked a lot!) they have always been more than happy.” Tom Brown has just opened his restaurant and I picked his brains a lot with regards to things that we might have missed.”

With regards to the menu, Tommy has revealed that he will be changing this daily, whilst using the best produce on offer. He said:  “Whatever comes through the door at the best quality – that’s what we are going to have on the menu, using clean and simple flavours and that is going to be the focal point.” 

Tommy's thoughts are very much in the short term, citing that 'Michelin stars and accolades are not the priority'.

He said:  “Let’s get the doors open and make sure that everything is ready. We just want to cook the food we want to cook and serve the drinks we want to serve and have a nice atmosphere and have people enjoy themselves. If we can get recognised for that I certainly won’t send them away.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd July 2018

Tommy Heaney hits 40k target in Kickstarter campaign to open solo restaurant